Few days ago, H & M ignited social media with a new campaign in which a black child was seen wearing a sweatshirt with an inscription “Coolest Monkey in The Jungle”.
Online critics accused the company of being racist, since calling a black person a “monkey” is considered derogatory in many countries, and of being callous.
H & M immediately removed the child’s image from its website and declared that it was withdrawing the product from its stores worldwide. The company also apologized and said it would work to ensure that something like this will not happen in the future.
However, this weekend protesters in southern Africa began blocking access to the company’s stores and, in certain cases, destroying them. It was reported that people in Pretoria and Johannesburg were throwing shelves, clothes and mannequins into the stores.
The criticisms of H & M came from people from various industries. Among those who commented on the publicity were basketball star LeBron James and artist The Weeknd. James posted the same photo of the boy on Instagram and changed the text of the sweater for a crown. The Weeknd, on the other hand, said that he was really offended and that he would no longer work with H & M.
In its apology, the company said they understood why people were offended by the photo and that it was clear that their processes were not followed correctly.
“As a global brand, we have a responsibility to be aware of racial and cultural sensitivities, and we have not fulfilled that responsibility this time,” the company said in a statement.
“This incident was an accident, but it does not mean that we do not take it seriously or that we do not understand the discomfort and discomfort it has caused.”
H & M is not the only brand that has generated an accidental storm due to race issues. Last year, Dove created controversy over an advertisement in which it showed a black woman “becoming” a white woman. In that case, the company apologized and said that it had been wrong in its attempt to represent black women in a considered manner.